show episodes
 
Series 1 relives the feel-good exploits of a young-at-heart retiree who walked Wainwright's 191 mile Coast-to-Coats Path through Northern England's breath-taking countryside. Series 2 recounts the early life of an eager traveller who was fatefully cast ashore in the 'lucky country', Australia. Series 3 remains a mystery, so let's wait and see, shall we?
 
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show series
 
Magnus’s nascent pneuma is captivated and charmed, yet senses utter isolation at his first encounter with ‘Liminal Time’. His habitation of the ‘Present Tense’ is somewhat akin to reading the final page of a ‘Who-Done-It’. He knows whose throat was slit and by whom, but remains clueless of the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why of all else! He’s i…
 
Soothing noises were emanating from Paris concerning the authentication of Magnus’s Picasso plate. The French Canals looked promising as a lifestyle alternative to suburbia. Magnus never looked for trouble; it seemed to seek him out. Even the Saturday madhouse of a local supermarket provided its challenges. Checkout provocation usually ended in tea…
 
“Whilst perusing the Willie Leece photographs online(http://willieleece.blogspot.com), I noticed your other blog: Is this a Picasso?. (http://picassoceramic.blogspot.com) What the story?” “It’s a magnificent piece,” Dorothea enthused. “It’s even more wonderful than I imagined.”By Richard H Cowley
 
“It reads like a Picasso. It’s right in its vocabulary; more painting than ceramic,” the Sotheby’s connoisseur affirmed enthusiastically, holding the plate securely in the crook of his arm. “It’s alive with his wit and playfulness. Where did you get it?” The Paris based Picasso Administration’s swift reply stated, ‘From the information provided, an…
 
Meet our vibratingly sexy Sybil Fawlty lookalike landlady who instigated the ‘dookling foot’ episode. And: - At the back of the shop, on a chair seat, alongside a red rusty, two-metre-tall, cast iron Jesus sat a grubby heavily glazed ceramic plate which catapulted Magnus deeper into the secretive, murky and unregulated world of fine arts.…
 
Robin’s Croft was a dilapidated seventeenth century stone cottage with the luxury of a cold water tap, but having no kitchen, gas, electricity nor sanitation. However, they’d survived the war and had a roof over their heads. For the first time four-year-old Magnus had a friend his own age. Andrew lived nearby beneath the trees of Fairy Glen and was…
 
Magnus records the unique artistry of Willie Leece, the modest creator of a unique style of rural assemblage sculpture. The ‘Hedge’ art works of this quietly thoughtful Manx farmer are selected to be hung alongside a blockbuster travelling Tate Gallery exhibition for a giant of the twentieth century’s artistic fraternity, Herr Kurt Schwitters. An u…
 
Magnus’s photographs preserve the singular contribution made to the world art scene by a modest Manx farmer’s unique creative flair. The incomparable and unrecognised ‘Hedge’ sculptures of Willie Leece are jointly exhibited with a giant of the twentieth century’s avant-garde art fraternity; a onetime ‘Most Loyal Enemy Alien’ of King George VI, Herr…
 
It wasn’t all misery! The shore-side base was Singapore, and in the early 1970’s it remained a mysterious and exotic place to explore. The ancient DC3 bounded and skipped along the rough grass airstrip rapidly gathering speed. With an almighty explosion, the starboard propeller stopped dead, the plane slewed violently sideways, and all was white-fa…
 
Magnus lived under no delusions about his own importance. If he was injured or killed on the rig, he’d be flown ashore, immediately replaced, and just as quickly forgotten On shore leave, Magnus, at one of Darwin’s notorious ‘Late Nights’ dance parties met the mascara-eyed, choker-wearing, adventurous blond, Sophia Elizabeth. Over the coming months…
 
Just three weeks after leaving England, Magnus was bouncing across the Algerian Desert in the back of a long-wheel-based Land Rover. The vehicle was jam-packed with robed and turban clad Arabs and desert dwelling Berbers. Before heading Down Under, our hero enjoyed a stint aboard off-shore rigs drilling the Adriatic Sea bed for oil. Perhaps Magnus …
 
Magnus started work with Hawker Siddeley in the autumn of 1964. Providence, destiny, or mere chance guided Magnus to the greener pastures of aviation and away from a seafarer’s life toiling in the oppressive and claustrophobic hell-hole of ships engine rooms.By Richard H Cowley
 
After a stint in the dole queue, Magnus’s receives a new job offer. His potential employer was one of the biggest whaling companies in the world, with a blubber rendering slaughterhouse on the isolated island of South Georgia. This icy and windswept hell was located in the South Atlantic Ocean approximated due east of Cape Horn and a mere 12 degree…
 
It wasn’t only appearances that needed to be spruced-up to meet the required standard of the officers’ dining saloon; a sailor’s immune system also needed a booster. Magnus was pleased to benefit from the years of research into tetanus, cholera, yellow fever, typhoid and smallpox. In January 1963, Magnus joined the steam turbine powered, semi-refri…
 
After failing to become a budding Field Marshal Montgomery understudy in the British Army, Magnus was obliged take a different tack. The call of the sea was in his blood, or so he was lead to believe. It looked as though a life on the ocean waves lay ahead, or was it a hazardous lee shore?By Richard H Cowley
 
Following the Army entrance exams, the aspirants, predominantly from privileged private schools, awaited their fate in a small conference room. When ‘Mr McAulay’ was called, Magnus followed the subaltern into a stark room that veritably crackled with razor-edged military crispness. The seeds of Magnus’s guarded approach to authority were sown well …
 
Apart from observing what those around him on the island did to earn a living, Magnus remained ignorant of what employment possibilities existed, what job requirements were, or what most professions entailed. Like everybody else, he didn’t know what he didn’t know, and didn’t even know that. Magnus’s naïve reasoning was that, if somebody who was un…
 
This is the FINAL episode of Retirement Blues Goodbye In wasn’t just the smell of the flowers; the enchantment of rolling hills, dales and moors; slow motion walking through torrential rain; being in good company; or breakfast with the ‘Mad Hatter’ that made our adventure worthwhile, it was ‘letting things go’. Along the way, issues that had previo…
 
The heavens, having rained themselves dry, radiated a pale greenish glow which brightened the tumbled stack of cottages that is Robin Hood’s Bay. The higgledy-piggledy houses appeared to cling limpet-like to the cliff face to prevent them sliding into the sea far below. That evening, near the beach, Peter was drawn to a signpost that pointed south …
 
Suddenly a mighty squall was upon us. A lashing headwind drove raindrops straight at us. Rain on the face and the curiously comforting staccato drumming of heavy raindrops on the tight fitting hood, close against my ears, gave the final day a hint of the surreal. It was like main-streaming Morse code directly into the brain’s pleasure centre. The m…
 
Getting lost wasn’t easy, but we did. After a wretched time battling the quagmire of bog holes and waist high tussock grass, we arrived where we started, and, knowing the place for the second time, found the path almost immediately. Dinner was a rare and incomparable experience. Perhaps an outsider would have regarded it as an ordinary three course…
 
The trek from The Lion Inn to Glaisdale was the shortest section we’d walked and so we had time for a little sightseeing at the North Sea fishing port of Whitby. This seaside town is high on the tourist must visit list, not only for its crispy cod and chips, but also thanks to a notorious visitor. In July 1890, Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula was hoist…
 
There was no need for sunscreen this morning. The besieging mist limited visibility with a veil of damp greyness that chilled the face and numbed the hands. The opaque blanket clung low to the soggy earth squeezing the acrid stench of marsh gas between its folds. All sound was stifled, like the muffled oars of a smuggler’s skiff passing close offsh…
 
The air was heavy with the scent of heather and the musky tang of damp moorland soil. For miles around the yellow, green, russet and purple/browns fused like the dusty autumnal tones of a well-worn Bedouin rug. “I’ve walked New Zealand’s Milford Sound and to the Base Camp on Everest,” the Aussie stated. “But the walk I’ve enjoyed most is the Coast …
 
From the beginning, Peter and I had regarded the trek as a sort of quest, a diversion from the norm rather than a test of our fortitude or stamina. As our journey progressed, it evolved into an on-going adventure to be lived within – a taste of forgotten freedom. In Great Broughton there were two places to dine. For only the third time on the trip …
 
“You’re not having another shower are you?” our diminutive landlord protested in dismay. “You had one only yesterday.” Later, we chanced upon Hugh of Gibbsland who was still grappling with the mysteries of map and compass. Needless to say, he was heading in the wrong direction and became ensnared in a clump of tall reeds and briars on an overgrown …
 
In a secluded corner a slightly groggy and bewildered beast stood next to the path. It watched over a calf lying on the grass trying to raise its head. Both animals were exhausted and bloodied. Clearly the cow had given birth to the calf only moments before. We stood quietly by and watched the calf scrambling to raise itself. I felt extremely privi…
 
Further on, the landscape changed. Stone walls gave way to hawthorn hedges, cattle replaced sheep and fallow meadow were tilled and sawn. We had entered the Vale of York, the long flat wooded plain between Swaledale and the Cleveland Hills. The rich farmland wasn’t solely good for cash crops; it was also a winemakers’ field of plenty with wide swat…
 
In the space of two hours we’d glimpsed garlic heaven and endured culinary hell. No mean achievement for a Friday night in a small North Yorkshire market town. The landlady proved to be a gem. Her helpfulness and, more importantly, her stylish smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, made our stay at the Old Brewery such a pleasure it assuaged sad memori…
 
Walking at a steady pace in the rain promoted a pleasant feeling of detached solitude, a state of mind similar to meditation. The rhythmically paced footfalls became the mantra that freed the observer within to watch the mind at play. The close patter of rain on my hood was wonderfully personal and intimate. In no time, my feet were sloshing about …
 
From Keld, there was little doubt we’d make it to Robin Hood’s Bay provided we avoided accidents or the hailed Rumpsfeltish – unknown unknowns. Keld is the only place where the ‘best’ walk in England (The Coast to Coast Path) and the ‘best known’ walk in the British Isles (The Pennine Way) merged. Like many in competition, their meeting is furtive …
 
The cool breeze strengthened to a squall, pressing clothes close and tight. A light drizzle flurried in the air making it a woollen-hat-over-the-ears day. Mother Nature had called to say “hello” and give us a gentle reminder that the Pennine Hills could be a changeable, bleak and dangerous place to be. A cantankerous Texel ram froze Peter and I wit…
 
It was easy to visualise a stagecoach and four rounding the corner on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and draw to a halt at the steps of the King’s Arms Hotel. The Cumberland Sausage at the Black Bull was the real thing, an appetising coil, nearly a foot and a half long, that covered the large dinner plate. It appeared the Cumberland Sausage had moved on…
 
A nearby cairn marked the final resting place of Robin Hood. What with Robin Hood’s Chair overlooking Ennerdale Water, Robin Hood’s grave at Wicker Street, and our final destination of Robin Hood’s Bay, the names, even if imaginary, lent a sense of place and time to the overall trail. Back at the farm, Sheila sent us off to bed with a cup of tea an…
 
“To come here, I disregarded my doctor’s advice, pooh-poohed my son’s pleas, and didn’t once pray for divine intervention,” stated Bryn with defiant steeliness. “And you know what? I don’t give a Continental!” Occasionally, birdsong brightened the sharp morning air with the magic trills not heard on the mountain tops. The stark beauty of the Lake D…
 
Dew Drop, or Bryn as we later learned, was lively and engaging company. It took only a couple of pints to transform the mischievous rapscallion of the mountain tops, into an independently minded nonconformist. Even though he experienced great difficulty walking, Bryn was eager to revisit the Lake District; the playground of his youth. The staggerin…
 
At Angle Tarn it was easy to understand the bond that connects mankind with the land. No claim of contracted possession, only the ‘oneness’ that extends back to ‘The Beginning’. Our Land! An extension of ourselves! The land we sprang from, the earth we’re part of, the place where we belong and to which we will return.…
 
Our farm-stay digs were a foxhunters Mecca. Mounted above the sideboard, in a display cabinet, a fox sat perfectly still amidst a stage-set rural scene. The stuffed animal fixed would-be diners with an unblinking glassy stare. It was madness to overlook Wainwright’s haven whilst distracted by a ‘Test Match’ silly mid-off or long leg. After all, ‘th…
 
Neither birdsong nor creaking trees are heard in that desolate place. A chorus of gushing waterfalls and gurgling streams is the music of the mountaintops. That night, the long forgotten sleep of the innocent came to call. Not a single sound spoiled the silence of the black night. The farmhouse, well-rehearsed over centuries, was up to the task of …
 
The air was chilled and humid, the breeze strong and blustery, and the sky dark and low. Unlike the furtive mist that caressed the cheeks, the storm’s calling card was a shotgun blast of icy droplets full in the face. It was when battling the misty storm that Mr Catastrophe whispered, ‘G’day’.By Richard H Cowley
 
Ramblers get lost at Greenup Edge! However, just below this confusing ridge is the easiest walking of all the high-level sections from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay, and is certainly something not to be missed. The all-round views are amongst the most dramatic in all Lakeland. Below, nestling by a lake is Grasmere – reputed to be one of the prettiest…
 
Even though the day had been dull, damp and dismal, the walking had been exciting, the weather exhilarating and the landscape spectacular. The Royal Oak Hotel, ‘William Wordsworth slept here’. Minestrone soup, Cumbrian roast ham with the biggest jacket potato I’d ever seen, and to finish off – pear Bakewell tart. Good night!…
 
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